cross country skiing the pct

Mar 8, 2021 | Cross Country Skiing, My Adventure Stories, Oregon

Learning how to cross country ski over the last year has been one of the more fulfilling adventures I have embarked on in recent years. From the first day when I nervously shuffled my skis across the groomed tracks to the fall camp where I learned that I pretty much didn’t know how to ski properly yet, learning this new sport has taught me the value of being a beginner.

As my skiing has progressed, so have my challenges. On this day, the challenge was skiing trail with the skinny skis. A recent dump of snow made the conditions perfect for trail skiing – there were recent tracks but not so many that the trail was stomped flat and icy. Learning to control the skis around switchbacks helped me progress my control quickly; it’s funny how stop or crash into a tree can speed up skill building.

It’s a good reminder to get out of your comfort zone, even when that comfort zone already feels quite small. Looking at what you are already doing and finding new opportunities to do it just a little bit differently might just give you that dose of adventure you’ve been looking for.

Want to try this ski route for yourself? Look for decent snow levels on the mountain and a recent snow to make sure the tracks are in good condition for you.

Our GPS Tracks

After day one, I was bone tired. I was really worried that this one was going to be the one that I failed at, that I would have to cut my miles short on days two and three, that my body wouldn’t hold up, that I just couldn’t do it. Day two dawned and my foot was cranky. The first mile felt miserable. And then something happened. It was like my body and my brain just decided that there was no use in protesting. Maybe it was the beautiful mountains and bluebird skies. Maybe it was finally figuring out how to herringbone without falling on my face. I don’t know. But about two hours in on the second day, I knew I could do it. I kept feeling better and better. And it was just the lesson I needed.

So what did I learn about multi-day adventures that I will be taking forward with me?


1. The body is amazing.

Up to this point, most of my adventures were two days at most. Exhaustion after day one has always been my experience. I have typically planned day two to be less intense, worried that the effort of the day before necessitates backing off. Day two has typically felt pretty bad as I get started and eventually feels better, usually not long before I’m done. I had always assumed that this was most likely the edge of my ability, but after this ski adventure, I see that it’s entirely possible for the body to settle in to the effort and to be able to go for much longer than I had previously thought. My experienced adventure buddies confirm this as being how this stuff tends to work. So now I wonder, just how far and for how long can I go?


2. Recovery is just as important as the movement.

I have no doubt now that what we do for recovery greatly impacts our ability to keep going. As soon as we finished skiing each day, we were eating our 4:1 carbohydrate protein snack (tunafish with crackers for me) and starting in with electrolytes. The rest of the evening consisted of recovery – a large dinner, plenty of rehydration, foam rolling, compression, relaxation and sleep. There was no time for anything else while we were in the thick of it. While my buddy is an old pro at this type of thing, this was new for me, and it gives me a blueprint for future endeavors.


3. How you fuel today impacts tomorrow.

This was a lightbulb moment for me. As we skied back on the first day, I mentioned to my friend that I was starving. She looked at me with alarm. “You’re eating for tomorrow today!” “What?” I thought, “I thought I was eating for today, like a response to my low energy level or my crankiness.” Turns out, that’s not how it works. You’re replenishing for the future, not to make up for the past. Which makes my performance on the first day make more sense. The day prior we had been driving, and I didn’t eat much all day. Nervous and excited for the skiing to start, I didn’t eat much dinner either. I had low energy all day that first day of skiing, and I see now that this was likely a factor. Going forward, I’ll be paying attention to what I eat the day before I start as well.

Okay, so I was mostly energetic after the first day. Except for this uphill moment when I most definitely could have taken a nap after falling down while trying to eat my scone.

I will be using these lessons to make better plans for future outings. I would love to hear what you’ve learned along the way. Hit me up on Twitter at @runnerteri with your favorite insights.

About The Author

About The Author

Teri Smith is starting her third act as a photographer, writer and adventure seeker in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more here.